Sound — 8
Jackson's Parade (JP) is a new punk rock band from Östersund, Sweden formed from the ashes of metal bands Pure Faith and Before My Damnation, the latter which shared the stage with acts such as In Flames and Aeon. JP's 5-track EP "Ghost" was completely self-written and produced, with Matt Gençtürk (UG's own MattKingerZ, guitar) at the helm, and vocals traded between Gençtürk and bassist Josef Wiktorsson.
1. "All the Same" is a rehash of a demo with the former singer (who was also a part of Before My Damnation). In its latest form, it is much cleaner now, with a clear sonic direction. "All the Same" is a solid opening and intro to the JP sound: pop punk, a more bass-heavy version of Piano's (Dan Tompkins side-project) tone. The opening 22 seconds somewhat reminiscent of Hoobastank and Sonata Arctica easter eggs. This is the most uptempo of the songs, and the pre-chorus to chorus groove is really catchy!
2. "Ghost" - the title song. Prior to the release of the EP, an acoustic version was released. The song is rather bass-heavy on the album version, and it's very staccato throughout the intro for both versions. However, there are good transitions between each section, and it's very cohesive and tight. One complaint, however - it's possibly a bit high for the two vocalists. The vocals are a lot less forced-sounding in the acoustic version, where they sing an octave lower. The song could do with a bit more downtuning and speed, actually. Other things of note: the instrument orchestration change from the intro/interludes (crunchy) into the verses (clean) reminds me of J-rock (Japanese rock) more than anything, with the dynamic contrast between the two sections. And that drum fill in the final chorus is a huge win. Props to drummer Benjamin Martinsson.
3. "HomeCome" - the lead single off the EP, and also available as a music video. Standard pop-punk track with JP's signature tightness. Martinsson further shows his command of grooves throughout while still retaining the band feel, and the band is better for it.
4. "Jackson's Parade" - the namesake song. This is the most straightforward pop punk song by far on the album. Gençtürk's guitar skills are placed in the spotlight with his well-constructed and cleanly played solo and countermelodies.
5. "Something We Share" - Those natural harmonics and melody really reminded me of something Ben Moody (ex-Evanescence) would do. Although Ben is a lot more straightforward, as shown in his song "Run Away." (Also, different genres.) This song has the most interesting instrumentation break of the five songs, reverting to palm muting power chords as opposed to the approach in "HomeCome" with arpeggiated chords.
Lyrics — 7
The sound quality is overall quite acceptable. The focus is on the instruments a lot more than on the vocals, which can be hit or miss (think Devin Townsend). I think a good distinctive feature would have been the vocals, actually - doubling lead vocal duties is rare, and otherwise, it sounds somewhat generic, particularly with the generally similar tempos. However, the harmonic alterations, particularly on "Ghost," are quite pleasant and provide a bit of novelty.
As discussed in the above section, lyrics as a result of the instrument mixing are a bit muddled, but I quite enjoyed "All the Same" and the chorus of the title track. "Jackson's Parade" also harkens back to the band members' history. The themes may not be the most original, but the words are mixed with a healthy dose of philosophical pondering, as well as a great match with the melodies.
As mentioned earlier, the vocal melodies may be a bit out of the natural reach for both vocalists, but this issue is generally dealt with rather well.
Overall Impression — 8
Jackson's Parade's "Ghost" may not be the most original or varied of releases with regards to genre and tempo, and it may have some mixing questions between the parts, but the album is particularly well-constructed and reflective of the band members' growth through multiple projects and practice sessions together. It is a very cohesive release through and through. The highlight of this EP (for me) is definitely "All the Same," but the ideas through all five tracks are well-thought out and solid, both on their own and as an album. Give it a spin - I'm excited to see the development of the band!